Martine Harris is the Chief Creative Officer of Essense Designs, the award-winning fashion house behind bridal labels Essense of Australia, Stella York and Martina Liana, as well as bridesmaid label Sorella Vita. Martine and husband Wayne Harris founded Essense Designs in 1992 in Perth, Australia, with the mission to exceed brides' expectations by designing, manufacturing and wholesaling wedding gown collections with fashion-forward styling, superb fit, couture finishing and extraordinary customer service. The company has grown to serve a global customer base with offices in the United States, Australia, Europe and the UK.
What do you love about designing wedding gowns?
I love seeing a new collection come to life, from the initial inspiration to the sketches to the finished products on real brides. Ultimately, the best part is seeing a bride’s wedding-day dreams come true while wearing one of my gowns. I’m so lucky to be a part of a memory that lasts a lifetime; it’s a special legacy that most people will never get to experience. My designs play an important role in making a bride feel like her best self, and it gives me inspiration and energy to see each girl’s wedding dreams become reality!
What are brides of today looking for?
Today’s brides are exposed to so many inspiration sources when it comes to bridal gowns. They often come to appointments having found something that was trending on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook. More specifically, they’re looking for dresses that incorporate popular runway and red carpet trends into wearable, timeless designs. For instance, if they see sexy cutouts on the red carpet or Pinterest, they’ll want to see that trend incorporated into bridal styles. Our newest collections are filled with runway-inspired elements, including high necklines, strappy backs, sheer side cutouts and rich, textural beading layered over lace. Brides continue to seek a variety of silhouettes based on their personal preferences and body shapes. Our collections feature everything from chic fit-and-flares with contoured seaming to modern ballgowns with soft, voluminous layers.
What is typical about the bridal dresses of your label (Martina Liana)? What makes them outstanding and unique?
I take pride in creating dresses that are not only beautiful, but are also beautifully constructed. Having impeccable inner construction not only makes Martina Liana gowns stand apart, it helps brides feel comfortable and secure, even in the most fitted styles. The other unique thing about the Martina Liana collection is that each gown is customizable—whether it be adjusting the hemline trim, adding beading, removing sleeves or mixing the top of one dress with the skirt of another. It’s the details that make the difference between an amazing gown and a dream gown, and customizing the details helps deliver a truly couture experience to my brides.
What are the bridal gown trends you see being popular in 2018?
Brides will see a lot of eye-catching back details (think: criss-crossing straps, intricate illusion lace, floating buttons and dramatic low V-backs), sheer details, off-the-shoulder sleeves and Rococo-inspired elements like multi-dimensional laces and decadent beading.
What is a piece of advice you’d give a bride searching for her gown?
For your appointments, bring pictures of dresses you’re drawn to, along with two or three people you trust. Most importantly, enjoy the journey! Shopping for a wedding gown is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and finding “the one” should be a special, memorable moment, shared with your closest family and friends. Once you choose your dress, personalise your look by adding something sentimental, such as a family heirloom tied into the bouquet, your mother’s veil placed in your hair or the wedding date stitched into the inside hem of your gown.
Love the look of these Martina Liana dresses? Check out the whole range on their website here...